FORGING AHEAD: Britain’s Black Country Living Museum broadens appeal
Britain’s award-winning Black Country Living Museum, recognizable as backdrop for the popular “Peaky Blinders” Netflix show, is forging ahead with its biggest development since 1978 as the historic attraction adds the story of the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, to its comprehensive social history of the “black country” industrial heartland near Birmingham.
The £30 ($49.9)million project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2024 includes the construction of a new Visitor Centre, opened last year, and the creation of a new Learning Centre.
“We are going to create a new historic development set in the 1940s-60s, telling the story of social, cultural, commercial, and industrial life in the Black Country during this period,” says Ros Kerslake, Past CEO of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. “This will allow us to tell the story of the Black Country up to the closure of the Baggeridge Coal Mine in 1968 – which brought about the end of a unique era for the Black Country. We will also be able to demonstrate industries that led to the worldwide export of Black Country products, such as brick-making and aluminium founding.
He adds, “Whilst the ‘Forging Ahead’ project will recreate and translocate a number of buildings of historical significance to the Black Country, heritage is not just about bricks and mortar, but the stories that are created within them.”
With the help of Britain’s National Lottery, Kerslake says the funding will not only only preserve unique buildings, such as the Gas Showroom, the Elephant & Castle pub, and the Library, but also “the memories that they hold, and ensure that they will not be lost but shared and built upon by future generations.”
Located in Dudley, just north of the Birmingham (about a 30-minute drive, the 10.5-hectare open-air museum recalls life, both physical and social, in the West Midlands during the Industrial Revolution through historical interpreters (mine manager, chemist, chain maker) and a replica canal side village town cobbled together from real buildings transferred from elsewhere in the region.
Visitors will also find period houses, workshops, and shops, including a working bakery and chippy (renowned for its fish and chips fried in traditional, but now rare, beef drippings). Themed events take place throughout the year, including behind-the-scenes tours and 1940s weekends.
First published at Travel Industry Today